• Short Summary

    For 5,000 years or more, the Bantusi pygmies of the central African forests have survived despite their lack of size and their refusal to compete with the rest of the world.

  • Description

    For 5,000 years or more, the Bantusi pygmies of the central African forests have survived despite their lack of size and their refusal to compete with the rest of the world.

    They are still there - about 35,000 of them. But today, their existence is being threatened by the encroachment of modern civilisation. The forests upon which they depend for food and shelter are slowly being stripped away in the search for timber and the need to turn the land to productive use.

    The homeland of these little people, whose average height is about four feet, six inches (1.5 meters), is the Ituri forest straddling the borders of Zaire and Uganda.

    The Bambuti are nomadic hunters and gatherers who live in small bands of about 25 families. The tropical forest provides all their basic needs - food, fresh water from innumerable streams, firewood and fibres to make clothing. They live in simple huts made of sticks and leaves, but rarely stay in the same place for more than a month at a time.

    They have no chiefs or elders, but simple settle their disputes by group discussion. Family ties between the Bambuti are strong and lasting. They inter-marry, but few of them are polygamous.

    Everything about their seems to be telescoped. Their children learn to walk about six months of age. At two, they can climb the highest trees in the forest in search of food. They marry, usually, when they are only ten or twelve and their live expectancy is little than 35 years.

    They have always lived simply. It is only comparatively recently that they have willingly emerged from the forests, but some of them now make a living by performing for tourists and travellers passing across the Zaire-Uganda border.

    Their retreat from the forest - sometimes voluntary, sometimes forced on them by clearing operations - is a hazardous move. The Bambuti, when they leave their natural cover, are prone to sunstroke and to a variety of diseases. The irony is that enormous areas of Africa have been designated as game parks for the preservation of wildlife, but no such attempt to preserve the lifestyle of the pygmies has yet been made.

    Meantime, the Bambuti go on surviving, wandering deeper and deeper into the forest. Their greatest enemy is civilisation. At the moment, they are still one step ahead of it - but it is catching up.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVA9U42NHSIW1KE525KBAO44M7M5
    Media URN:
    VLVA9U42NHSIW1KE525KBAO44M7M5
    Group:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    12/07/1974
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:03:03:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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